Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!

See Previous Posts Related to Mumbai Terror Strikes

Picture Update from ~ 5:30 pm onwards Indian Time; Monday Dec 1st from the Leopold Cafe!

Met fellow twitter organizer Netra at the Leopold Cafe, Mumbai. After the shooting on Wednesday night, it had opened for the first time. It was not as raucous inside and much fewer foreigners (understandably). Many onlookers had to be kept out by guys manning the several doors. Several media folks were inside taking pics as well.
Leopold Cafe Reopens

Perhaps she was reminiscing of others who had lost their lives at these very tables!

Farzad (right) was very thankful for the public support for Leopold, “people are supporting each other.” He mentioned how on the night of the attack, complete strangers on the streets helped put victims into cabs and took them to hospitals! But he asks furiously, “Why did this happen?”
Leopold Cafe Reopens

Farzad is of the Zoroastrian faith and sports a beautiful Asho Fravara on his neck. Cool!
Asho Fravara

Walked over to the Taj. Ofcourse it is still barricaded and it too has become a public attraction. Security guards were welding metal barricades by the gates and the sidewalk was boarded up. Apparently the renovations would take a year. After posting so many mumbai terror pics, I just don’t feel like sharing more pics of the scarred and fire damaged Taj. We’ll wait for the renovated Taj!

Finally, many small vendors like these channa wallahs, were out trying to earn a living. These hard working souls at the “bottom of the economic pyramid” were the most affected. They make only a few rupees each day selling warm peanuts and chickpeas (called channa) to those visiting the Gateway of India. I hope they make brisk business.
Leopold Cafe Reopens

Here is a close up of their basket. Peanuts on the left and channa (chickpeas) on the right. The metal pot with burning coal keeps the nuts warm and crisp. These are served in cones turned from old paper seen on the left edge of his basket. A cone full costs about two rupees (4 cents, US)
Leopold Cafe Reopens

I want to share some pics from the day the operations ended; Life had already started to bounce back! Folks just could not stay cooped any longer.
My favorite eating place on Colaba Causeway, “Kamats” opened. Now after I come back from my run, I can get a plate of steaming Upma (savory cream of whaat) and shira (cream of wheat pudding).
Kamats Restaurant

At the Poornima Juice Center on Colaba Causeway, freshly squeezed sugarcane juice (Ganna ras) can now soothe parched throats, for 8 rupees (16 cents, US).
Sugarcane juice

This kid serving me was delighted to serve me after a break of a few days. Such small family business were hurt most by the terror strikes and the associated curfew.
Sugarcane juice

In other parts of the city, kids were thrilled to be at the shop selling kites!
kite shop kids

And these kids got great pleasure from spinning these wooden tops. The top is a simple wooden cone with a nail in the center. A thread is wound around the grooves of the top and kids expertly flick the top. As a kid, I could do this reasonably well; now I was sure to embarrass myself and wisely did not offer to flick the top. The little girl was ecstatic she was being photographed! Oh the simple joys! These kids have likely never seen a Gameboy.
kids spinning tops

Nearby, adults shared a cutting chai (tea, 1 small glass tumbler split and shared by two)
adults sharing chai

21 thoughts on “Leopold Reopens, Mumbai Bounces Back!

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  1. Hi Arjun,

    My late Indian girlfriend, my severly injured BF and I were also at Leo’s that horrible night.

    I’ve managed to track down a few survivors, so far mostly from Leo’s. We’ve formed the netbased group ‘SURVIVOR of the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks 26/11-08’, hoping that we cany support and help eachother on our path towards mental healing.

    I’d like to let Levente (and other survivors) know about it and would be very grateful if you’d please let her/him have my mailadress.

    Thank you so much.

  2. Hi Arun, doing a bit of a looking back story on citizen journalists/bloggers and the role they played in last week’s terror attack.. could you please call me at 9820217409?


  3. Hey Arun,
    Kashi asa?..glad to know sama asa.
    I must commend you for stellar citizen journalism. I am so proud of your work. I weep for my city…I lunched at Leopold’s in July and spent a lot of time in South Bombay during my years at Jai Hind College….this really hurt. I am reassured by your latest post…..goodness will prevail every time. Terrorism will never win.
    Take care and see you back at the general.

  4. Arun,

    Thanks for all this. I am actually a survivor of the attack at Leo – I was in there. It is quite useful for me to read all this on your blog and I am delighted to see Mumbai bouncing back and showing some resilience.

    I would be very grateful for other pics of Cafe Leopold, showing it from any angle – I am not necessarily after the spectacular traces of the attack and the shooting itself but a streetview and a shot of the corner of Causeway would be useful. I know this is a weird query but do you have such a photo that you could send to me (it would be invaluable for me to be able to describe what actually happened to me)?

    Sorry to bother you with this – I imagine you have enough on your plate.

    I will keep fond memories of “incredible India” and its peaceloving people, whatever happened a couple of days ago.

    From Arun:
    Hi Levente: It is amazing to hear that you are an actual survivor of the the shooting at the Leopold. Congratulations! You have a higher purpose in life.

    I do not have those pics that you mentioned; but since I just live a couple of blocks down, will take such pics and mail them to you separately.

    Wishing you the best and sorry for the horrible memories from the Leopold.

  5. Hey Arun, I left you a comment in one of your previous posts… I guess the sheer number of them must have overwhelmed you…
    I had no idea you were in mumbai when the attacks happened.
    Because the last time I left you a comment, we were talking about Boston and how pretty it is !

    I hope you and your family are doing okay. It must have shaken you all up being that close to the incident.
    It is very sad, and I wish I could do something….

  6. Arun, This is so sad…Thank you for sharing your blog and your photographs with us. I am so glad that you and your family are safe… My heart breaks and my prayers and thoughs are with the innocent victims of this tragedy.

  7. Arun,
    The picture of blood pooled around the waiter’s serving tray was heart-wrenching. Like every Indian, I am deeply saddened by the tragic events and eagerly look forward to Rattan Tata’s statement that “Taj will be built to exactly how it was before the terrorist attack” coming to fruition. The child’s innocent smile indirectly tells everything about the Mumbai spirit and resolve to bounce back! God bless India!

  8. Hi Arun,
    How are you…? Your photographs says that everything is going on routine as days goes. Yes…still I can’t believe that happenings in Mumbai…very terrible…very terrible…! 😦

    That ‘Chanawalah’ is trying to do a business for his surviver even they are not guaranteed for safety. Oh God…please help my India…!

    Actually, I didn’t know that u are in India until you posted those photographs of terrorists’s attack day 1.

    Happy to see those kids photographs. so innocent kids 🙂 You did a great job. Bravo Arun!

    Jai Hind.

    Take care.

  9. I love the look of pride on the face of the kid serving juice. That kid’s got some charisma!

    From Arun:
    I love that kid! He is there every day when I go for my fresh ‘ganna juice.’ I wondered why he is not in school. I asked him about it. He was evasive and said: “I go to school!” Which one, I asked; “In my gaon (village)” he replied. 😦

    It would be too easy for me to criticize their family choices, not knowing their challenges. I wish him well.

  10. We have been glued to CNN past few days trying to keep up with what’s going on and at the same time hoping that it would all end when we woke up the next morning. However, the nightmare didn’t end for days! During all that, I got so sick and tired of CNN and in general the whole media. After I found your blog, it was just very comforting to read your take on what’s going on. It felt like the most honest and accurate report of what was going on in Mumbai. Thank you for all your work in the past few days. You covered the details I wanted to know and did not get from the media…and you perfectly avoided all the crap that I was getting very tired of hearing on TV.

    Oh by the way, I heard you on NPR while driving to work this morning 🙂 Hope to meet you in Boston one day! We recently moved here…

  11. Arun, Incredible job, it must have been so emotional for you. Thank you for the “neighborhood” information and not just the typical. I saw a couple from Boston on TV this morning who were in the hotel and they found out what was going on after emailing their daughter in Boston while still hearing gunshots outside their door! It is great that you can bring such information to my little corner of northeast Florida! Thank you and please take care of yourself. All my best – Donna Washburn “dwashburn@flagler.edu”

    From Arun:

    Hi Donna: What a surprise hearing from you! Glad to hear that you are doing well in FL!
    And thank you for your kind words. It was quite an experience seeing my neighborhood under seige! and i am glad i could record the events – it was my own way to keep from staying indoors and going crazy!

    Good to hear from you!

  12. Arun!!!!
    I had NO idea you were in India (leave alone Mumbai) right now. I was in Delhi till Friday and saw a link to your twitter feed on a BBC article this morning as I was catching up with articles and opinion pieces on the terrible terrible thing that happened in Bombay. And OMG, was i speechless for a while! Am soooo amazed at the terrific job you have done in keeping everyone informed through your commentary and as always, amazing photos!! Hats off to you dude. You always continue to amaze me!

    Seeing these pics brought a smile to my face…they’ll never get us, ever! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Till when r u in India?

  13. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. Finally have time to reply.

    @Abe: Absolutely; heartwarmingly beautiful smile! Such joy!

    @Bala: Ha hA! I am eating at Kamat’s everyday Might as well. In a few weeks I return to Boston.

    @Aditya: yeah; certainly, a penny for her thoughts!
    But, the onlookers will dissipate.

  14. I particularly love the second picture, it’s so deep. It’s unfortunate that they had to shut it back down so soon the same day because of the large number of people who wanted to visit.

  15. Kamat’s Samarambh was a huge favorite for me, back in Bombay. I also loved the one in Maker Arcade (Cuffe Parade) and was amused/surprised to know that it belonged to a different Kamat group. Sitting here, one’s mouth waters at the thought of the delicious food we’re missing back home!

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